adrian is rad


proteas and paternoster

Filed under: — adrian @ 12:34 pm

On Friday I saw the cricket one-day South Africa vs England. SA gave the red coats a thorough romping so that was good but the whole event was fun. I went with a family friend and spending time with him was great. The weather was gorgeous. The stadium sits in the shadow of Table Mountain. And the people in front of us were nutso and entertaining, a spectacle all on their own.

paternoster fishing boat

Yesterday I went to Paternoster, a fishing village (and tourist favorite) a hundred kilometers up the coast or so. I had some really delicious and very fresh fried crayfish and we walked around the beach looking at the fishing boats. It was a nice time away from the city.

One thing I appreciate about Cape Town is that in about half an hour you can get solidly out onto the open road. Nothing-in-sight-but-the-road open road.

Today was pretty relaxed, hitting up the Turkish Baths at Long Street and going for a long walk, ending up at Disa Park where I took some photos.

Just a couple weeks left now till I head back to the States. It seems weird that it’s so soon. At the same time, I recently passed the mark making this the longest time I’ve been out of the country continuously.


I’m not an ambiturner

Filed under: — adrian @ 10:48 am

First kisses by direction turned:

  • left: 35%
  • middle (no turn): 55%
  • right: 10%

(Figures are approximate to obscure actual number of first kisses.)


thanks giving

Filed under: — adrian @ 9:31 am

I’m thankful for my family, who is supportive even when I have funny ideas about what I should do with my life. I’m thankful for friends who repeatedly include me in things regardless if I’m 5, 3000 or 12000 miles away. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had. I’m thankful for the Pick N Pay that stocks good pecan pie when an expat is feeling a bit nostalgic. I’m thankful for music. I’m thankful for people who are nice or go out of their way to help even when they are hardly know me. I’m thankful for all the ways I can keep in touch with and keep up with friends from thousands of miles away.


five all time great laughs

Filed under: — adrian @ 10:40 am

Five all time great laughs:

  • Buford- it’s not the laugh he has when someone tells a joke, but the laugh he specifically reserves when he tells stories. It’s a stifled laugh in the midst of a sentence when he’s setting up something particularly amusing. “So we’re at the circus [stifled laugh] and there’s this guy, right [stifled laugh], and he…”
  • Jesse – He is a perfect example of the contrast between a big, tough exterior and a giggling laugh.
  • John V – When John would laugh really hard, he’d transition from his normal laugh to a higher pitched laugh. I think it rubbed off on me.
  • Colin A – I don’t know if Colin still does this but in high school he’d laugh in a moderately contained manner but his nostrils would flare and contract rapidly during his laugh. I tried to imitate this; it’s inimitable.
  • Jeff M – Jeff has a few laughs, but my favorite is the mouth-fully-open boisterous one when he finds something really funny.


disappearing act

Filed under: — adrian @ 11:30 am

I walked out my door at 6:40 this morning for a walk. Out my door is a gorgeous view of Table Mountain and stunning blue skies all around. I finished my walk, showered and opened the door again at 7:30 and the mountain and most of the city were completely gone. Fog/ a low cloud had moved in really fast. It was ridiculous.

It’s really astounding how much construction there is. Roads, buildings, bus rapid transit lanes, stadia. I’m surprised the city can sustain this for so long. Driving anywhere, any road, is bound to have construction somewhere along the way. I suppose know that most, if not all, of it will be in 198 days or less probably helps.

As I mentioned before, each road construction site has one, if not more, people employed to wave a red (or sometimes orange) flag continuously. There are various styles of flag waving, I’ve noticed. There’s the unexpected lane closure/ merge flag waving, which is very directed purposeful. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the well-there’s-a-construction-site-here-but-you-probably-know-that flag waving, which is just sort of a little wave side to side.

On Friday I’m going to see a cricket one day against England. It should be fun. The one-days are pretty exciting, though Twenty20s are really a home run derby, to mix metaphors.

I’ve been surprised a few times when people mentioned the holiday or traveling this week. I keep forgetting it’s Thanksgiving there. I do like Thanksgiving a lot. I thought of trying to make a pumpkin pie, but I haven’t gotten my act together yet (and I’ve had a hard time locating some components) so we’ll see if that happens.

There’s a lot of real crap on TV here. Just horrible horrible TV, between soaps, bad American shows and possibly more professional than they even show in the States. So when I heard that Big Bang Theory was starting here, I was pretty excited. It’s on Tuesdays and I was looking forward to it all day. I’ve seen it before, but I was still unreasonably excited about it.

In other TV news, Al Jazeera news is pretty good. It definitely has more of an international focus that most of the SABC new programs. They show the feed of it on Cape Town’s community station for half an hour each evening.


this olympics’ curling

Filed under: — adrian @ 5:17 am

An article in Sports Illustrated about Team Night Train, one of the US’s four man bobsled teams has gotten me excited about the team:

It’s a Monday night in mid-October, and bobsled season has just begun, so where else would the world four-man champions be but in Lake Placid, N.Y., swapping sledding stories at Lisa G’s bar? It is wings night, after all. Steve Holcomb, pilot for Team Night Train (USA 1 was a little drab for this blithe bunch), is trying to explain the art and science of negotiating a perfect line down the lightning-quick Lake Placid course. It was there, last March, that he drove his quartet to the first world championship for a U.S. team in 50 years and raised hopes that at the Vancouver Games next February, the U.S. men can win their first Olympic bobsledding gold medal since 1948.

Another interesting story is that Holcomb’s eyesight degenerated to 20/500 before he had experimental surgery to fix it, but he found driving by feel so helpful that he now leaves his visor fogged up.

I might have to get behind the team like I got behind curling in 2006. I still wear my USA Curling hat often, in fact. Unfortunately they don’t have any sweet hats. Maybe I’ll have to get a hoodie instead.

story week redux

Filed under: — adrian @ 2:32 am

Well, that was fun. I’m not quite sure why I decided to do it but I think it turned out alright. I didn’t have any of the stories planned before the day I wrote them and I enjoyed having the pressure to write something.

It sort of makes me want to do a 365 days of stories project. I’m not sure I have that many stories.



Filed under: — adrian @ 11:03 am

I returned to the Einstein’s Fish logic puzzle that I got stuck on a couple years ago and solved it.

Oops. I just realized I solved the wrong Coudal puzzle. The original one I got stuck on was Lunch, not Einstein’s Fish. Oops. Give me a few minutes here.

Update: I figured out Lunch as well. It took a lot less time than Einstein’s Fish. (I was also a bit warmed up after Einstein’s Fish.)

story week, part 7/ final

Filed under: — adrian @ 6:17 am

I’m going to tell you a story every day for the week.

I lived in a crazy communal house in college. On any given day, you might find people programming a laser-light show in one of the rooms (via the internet), disassembling a ’70s motorcycle, debating whether one can be truly selfless, building custom made Nixie clocks—”Don’t touch the back. It has enough voltage to kill someone”—or making plaster molds and subsequently casting wax copies of their genitalia.

The house was in the Back Bay, in one of those coveted brownstones and had been the home to MIT kids since the ’50s, which grandfathered in some lovely things like an open center stairwell. This feature lead to drops. A drop must be loudly announced with the name of what you were dropping; one would yell “laundry drop!” and drop his bag of laundry down four floors. It was a lot more than carrying it down.

While laundry was the most common drop, pennies, large rubber balls, bouncers (our name for Rubbermade polycarbonate mugs that did indeed bounce when dropped), printers and any number of other things were dropped.

The center stairwell was also a brilliant communication method. “Andy! Someone’s at the door for you!” for instance. One day I left my room on the fourth floor with the purpose of throwing away cottage cheese that for some reason came with chunks of pineapple in it and tasted simply wretched. Jesse was at the bottom of the stairs yelling: “Ian! Phone for you! Iaaaan!! Phooooone for youuuu!” Ian lived on the fifth floor which, was built after the rest of the house and was cut off from the main stairwell. Ian was not going to hear Jesse.

I saw my chance. “Jesse, I’ll get Ian if you try to catch my cottage cheese drop.” I’d save him walking up four flights of stairs, so it seemed fair. There was a slight pause. “Okay.” “You realize if you don’t catch it right, it’ll explode all over you.” “Yeah.” I wondered if the person on the phone was hearing all of this.

With gusto previously unparalleled in a drop announcement, I yelled, “Cottage cheese drop!” and let it go. The container accelerated down four stories at a rate that could be approximated as 9.8m/s^2 if you ignored the effects of drag. In retrospect, Jesse never had a chance. Jerry Rice couldn’t have made this catch. There was an explosion and cottage cheese was everywhere.

I ran up to the fifth floor. I’m not sure Ian could even understand what I was saying through my laughter or, if he did, I’m sure he had no idea what was so funny about there being a phone call for him.

[Epilogue: Yes, I helped clean up the cottage cheese.]


story week, part 6

Filed under: — adrian @ 11:33 am

I’m going to tell you a story every day for the week.

JW is a solid dude. He’s the sort of guy who, if you asked him to take time off work to show around a Malawian guy you barely know around New York, would probably say yes. He’s also the sort of guy who could be the first person to inform me of my receding hairline and I wouldn’t take it as an insult or an effort to embarrass me; he would simply be informing me of a fact.

JW is also the sort of guy that might have traveled to Bermuda on the spur of the moment a few years back and returned with some Bermudan black rum. And though I was of legal age, I may have never have been even remotely tipsy.

And so it may have happened that we may have mixed that rum with ginger beer to make dark and stormies. And I may have gotten drunk for the first time as we sat in the hallway outside JW’s room and laughed and chatted, stumbling down the hall to the bathroom at necessary intervals and marveling at slushy feeling I was getting in my head.



story week, part 5

Filed under: — adrian @ 12:29 pm

I’m going to tell you a story every day for the week.

Early childhood is a bit like a dream. You know things happen but why or how or when are not always clear.

I don’t remember why my dad was at school with me. It might have been evening; it may not. It was at Chadds Ford so I was probably 6 or 7.

But dad was at school with me and we were watching a video on safety along with a number of other people. I don’t know why we were watching a video on safety. A policeman may have been presenting it.

The video was extolling the virtues of wearing a seat belt. “Most accidents happen near the home because people don’t think they need to wear their seat belt on short trips around their home.”

Dad leaned over: “That’s doesn’t make sense. Not wearing a seat belt has no connection to whether an accident happens or not. Do you see that?”

I thought. I furrowed my brow and squinted. “Yeah.”

And thus I was introduced to logic. That’s what I remember.


story week, part 4

Filed under: — adrian @ 10:33 am

I’m going to tell you a story every day for the week.

Near the end of my time living in Taiwan, I decided to go to Kinmen (formerly transliterated as Quemoy), a Republic of China (Taiwan) island 2km off of mainland China for a weekend. It’s a fascinating place that’s had a lot go on in the last century: isolationist Fujianese culture followed by briefly adopting British-Asian colonial styles and then sustaining shelling by both the Japanese and Maoist Chinese.

It leads to some shocking scenes: traditional Fujianese villages with miles of bomb shelter tunnels underneath. Or sorghum fields, waiting to be harvested for traditional brews, with rusty anti-parachute spikes every 10m. Such images are endless.

The English proficiency was very low and I had mastered only a few dozen words and phrases of Chinese including such useful phrases as “This is a pair of chopsticks” and “This is my business card” so communication, or lack thereof, was a major issue. I didn’t hear any English on my flight. I was picked up at the airport by someone that couldn’t speak English; I was taken to a scooter shop where I rented a scooter from people who didn’t speak English. Only when I got to the guest house did I hear any English and then it was quite broken.

I was in over my head. I was an island.

At one point I tried going to the local-style noodle shop. Well, I succeeded at getting there. And I succeeded at standing awkwardly in the entrance for a while. I even succeeded at pointing at a bowl of noodles with pork and indicating I wanted that dish.

When the proprietor said something as she carried a bowl past me, I thought she meant it was mine so I followed her to the table where a young man and an older woman were already sitting–it’s not entirely unusual to sit with people you don’t know–and started to sit down. Then the young man’s friend returned to the table and sat in that chair and started eating the dish I thought was meant for me.

Seeing my confusion, the young man got up and grabbed me a chair. “Xie xie” (Thank you). A dish of various meats and tofu arrived. “We,” he said motioning in a circle, “together.” “Oh. Xie xie” and I tried a few pieces. My noodles arrived and I started eating them. (They were delicious, incidentally). He pushed some sauce toward me. “Spicy.”

Finished with their meals, the young man and his friend got up and paid the proprietor, who gave me a funny look. He came back over to the table. “You no pay.” The spicy sauce must have started to get to me because my eyes welled up a bit. “Xie xie.”

No man is an island, it turns out.

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